Thursday, April 5, 2012

Sniff, Snort, Slurp

I have the noisiest sleeping baby on the face of the earth.

You look at the sleeping angel face with the long lashes, soft skin, fluffy downy blond hair, and rosebud lips, and cannot even comprehend that those phlegmy, vulgar, unladylike sounds could possibly be coming from such a perfect cherub. It’s my own fault, I suppose. She seems to have inherited her snoring, sleep slurping, general sniffiness from me. It’s a bit less noticeable in an adult, but in a small baby, large noises like that are somewhat incongruous.

I was particularly aware of her sleep sounds last night, as she had yet another fussy night and I spent most of it sleeping on the couch downstairs with her in my arms. Or rather, NOT sleeping on the couch downstairs with her in my arms. I can sometimes get her to fall asleep just enough that as long as I don’t move (or breathe too deeply), she’ll stay asleep. But the slightest movement will cause her to wiggle or cough or cry. So I lie in the dark, wide awake, every muscle tensed, listening to her breathing to see when she might be sleeping deeply enough that I can move my arm which has currently fallen asleep pinned underneath my body. And instead of quiet, calm, measured breathing, I hear slurping, snoring, wheezing, and sniffling.

She’s not a pretty sleeper.

And yet, when she sounds so uncomfortable is when my mothering instinct kicks in the most. One tiny cough, and I’m propping her into a more comfortable spot to clear her congestion. A few slurps and my finger is in her mouth to ease those sore gums. A sniffle or two and I’m wiping her button nose with a tissue. A slight wheeze and I’m making sure her head isn’t cocked at an awkward angle. General wiggling will buy her rocking and a series of lullabies. And as much as I don’t like it, I like it. In fact, I love it.

How can you not love the chance to calm an uncomfortable baby? How little of a sacrifice is your own sleep when it means your baby is peacefully slumbering? And what is more wonderful than watching a beautiful sunrise with a finally sleeping baby breathing slowly and deeply on your shoulder? Those few moments of quiet serenity are worth every hour of wakefulness listening to gurgling and mewling and tired, sad whines.

And when that sleepy baby wakes up and looks at you with a big “good morning” smile? Priceless.

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